Family lore dictates that I began reading I two. Since that would make me freakishly intelligent, I beg to differ, but it makes a good story after all.
This doesn’t mean I didn’t spend age two and onward with Vivian waiting breathlessly for her to show some sign, some indication that her brain was translating chicken scratch into words, that gibberish was becoming “pizza” and “dinosaur.” She’s dig through the book bins in the thrift store with me, cheering when her favorites, when the ants and beetles covered the pages, or archeopteryx flew towards her in color. She’d spend her nights flipping through art books, Clifford, that fucking Franklin the turtle, science books, bug books, bird books. Enthralled she was, but not with the words. Her vast (and rather precocious) vocabulary had no desire to linger through the pages.
I tried. How I tried-but not too hard. Just as with potty training, it became obvious that any type of pressure would result in the exact opposite of what I wanted-she would pee on the floor, or heave books at my head. So I’m gently suggest, sound out phonetics, break words down to syllables, talk about the roots of words.
Occasionally I would be blessed with the sound of gentle snoring, and twinkling eyes looking everywhere but at me.
I held out for my last hurrah-school. She’d never resist the lure of pleasing a teacher, or showing up her little sister I figured. School would be full of words-the walls of her classroom covered floor to ceiling in primary colored animals, hearts with names on them. She’d spell her name every single day-wouldn’t she start getting curious about all those other words? Wouldn’t she get curious about all those other books in the bins behind her table, rivaling even the fire hazard which is half my house?
A month or so ago, we sat reading some primary reader before bed, when from her mouth arose such a sound that I teared up and paused things around me for a moment. Her finger traced the sentence slowly, and halting sounds spilled from her mouth
“A boy, a bear and a bug.”
Some parents clearly remember the first time their children walked-I missed those. Some, the first time they spoke a clear word-I don’t, one out of town, one, I really just can’t remember.
But reading her first words, opening that door into a world I’ve loved for so long, this I will remember. Watching her mouth form the words, the connections being made between her fingers and eyes, her head and mouth, her sudden realization that she understood what was on the page, the glimmer that the lines on a page were no longer just lines.
I admit-I squealed. And Vivian looked up at me with her shining, unsure eyes and suddenly broke into a grin. I told her how she could soon start reading the multitude in her room, start escaping into words that weren’t this one, start learning for herself.
I saw a future, hours in book stores, lazy Sundays reading, maybe a book written in the future. The beginning of her own little world.
(ETA-I’ve amused myself noticing that of all posts that I didn’t run spell check on, I chose this one. 😛 )